SULPHUR — Adjusting to a new coach and a new system is never easy regardless of the sport.

SULPHUR — Adjusting to a new coach and a new system is never easy regardless of the sport.

However, the Lone Grove Lady Horns basketball team has a slight advantage most teams aren’t afforded when getting a new coach: an adjustment period.

Monday afternoon the Lady Horns were hard at work at the Sulphur Team Camp, continuing the process of gelling under new head coach Sam Hale, who is now in his 14th season as a head coach, with this being his first at the helm of Lone Grove.

Hale has spent the last three seasons at Mangum High School, where he guided the Lady Tigers to a 16-10 record last season before they were eliminated by Latta in the regional tournament.

During the 2016-17 campaign, Mangum finished with an overall record of 22-8 overall, reaching the state quarterfinals, after winning three straight games at the area tournament.

The 2015-16 season was also a success for Hale and his Mangum squad as it won 23 games with just four losses, including winning 16 out of its first 17 games. 

Before stopping in Mangum, Hale spent 10 years as the head coach at Walters High School. He also has stops at Okeene, and Hugoton, Kansas, along with being an assistant coach at Velma-Alma High School. 

While he hasn’t had much time to fully evaluate or learn every member of his squads name, coach Hale did admit he is liking what he is seeing from his squad as far as effort and hustle are concerned.

“Overall we are pretty athletic as a team,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve tried to stress to the girls is that we want to compete this summer. I haven’t had much of a chance to officially get in the gym with these girls and work with them. These girls understand that this is a process and we’re not going to learn everything overnight.”

In helping with the process of the Lone Grove Lady Horns this season are a number of returning starters, including senior post Shelby Stevenson.

In her junior year, Stevenson averaged 10 points and seven rebounds per game, along with being a strong presence in the paint all season for the Lady Horns.

Another player who averaged 10 points per game last season is now junior Lydia Saavedra, who will add an offensive boost to a Lone Grove team who finished 14-10, falling to Eufaula in the regional consolation semifinals.

Two other juniors who will be returning this season will be Cheyanne Davis and Abbi Atkinson, who had her sophomore season cut short due to a wrist injury.

These players along with the rest of the returning Lady Horns members will look to account for the loss of three seniors from last years team which included Katelynn Cobb and Taleigh Nail, who finished ranked in the top-five all-time at Lone Grove for career three pointers made while averaging 10 points per game, along with Hayden Epley, who will be playing for Randall University this fall in Moore. 

“A tremendous amount of our success is going to depend on the leadership ability of our returning girls,” Hale said. “I really think the leadership shown by those older girls like Abbi, Shelby and the others is going to make the process a lot better for us as we go on in the season.”